One of the exciting things about my role at Cincinnati Children’s is being part of initiatives that are truly changing the way we approach healthcare and improve the quality of life for children and their families. A great example is the work underway on inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, that is having significant impacts on how we treat this chronic condition – and may also be teaching us lessons on how to address other diseases, as well.
The extensive collaboration we’ve written about here in the past to address IBD is continuing and expanding. The Collaborative Chronic Care Network and ImproveCareNow hosted a recent forum at Cincinnati Children’s to showcase the latest initiatives, and the progress is impressive. Among the new efforts underway are:
- Smart phone apps that identify disease symptoms and enable patients to track changes in their behaviors to observe how that may impact or reflect their health
- Social networking tools to enable patients to overcome isolation and provide a widely accessible, credible forum for sharing experiences
- A mentoring program to connect those recently diagnosed with these conditions to others who have been managing them successfully for some time
- A centralized national database enabling doctors and patients to measure performance and compare results, providing nearly instant input on which treatments work best
Another promising idea is to develop an interactive game that would encourage often-reluctant young patients to get more involved with their care. In order to get the best thoughts on what could make the game most engaging and effective, we issued a challenge to the general public to submit their own ideas about how the game could work, offering cash prizes for the winning submissions. We received scores of entries from 10 different countries and are sorting through them now. We’re hopeful that using this “crowdsourcing” technique will lead us to yet another powerful weapon in our expanding arsenal against IBD.
Our collaboration is resulting not only in good ideas, but in actual improvements in patient outcomes. That remains our ultimate goal, of course, and we’re encouraged by the success we’ve had so far. Our hope is that this same approach will have applications in treating other chronic conditions, too. We’ll keep you posted as more data come in.
Peter Margolis, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Pediatrics and Co-Director of the Center for Health Care Quality. He works with practices and health care organizations to assist them in designing better systems of care for children. Dr. Margolis is currently leading center projects in support of the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Medical Specialties.